22. June 2021
I June 2017, brighter AI was born within the German automotive industry as a spin-off from the tier-1 supplier HELLA. As we celebrate the company’s 4th birthday, we want to reflect on some important milestones, highlight where we stand today and take a look at what’s coming next.
HELLA is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, known especially for its innovative lighting solutions. Within its incubator in Berlin, the brighter AI founders started to work on AI-based vision systems that could disrupt the market for traditional headlights. The outcome was a software based on generative adversarial networks (GANs) which was able to turn night images into bright, day-like images and to remove fog from video footage.
While building robust AI models for this solution, we realized that there is an even bigger challenge connected to computer vision and the future of mobility: gathering privacy-compliant image data in public. Especially for the development of autonomous driving, high-quality data in huge quantities is key for training neural networks. At the same time, traditional anonymization approaches such as pixelating or blurring personal identifiers like faces and license plates can create artifacts in the data and important information such as the line of sight of pedestrians gets lost.
Therefore, we have developed Deep Natural Anonymization, which generates artificial faces and license plates to replace the original identities in real-time, while keeping the value of the data for machine learning and video analytics. With our solution, we were one of the first companies worldwide to use generative AI in a commercial product.
From Award-Winning Startup to Trusted Privacy-Tech Leader
Our role as AI pioneers was recognized by NVIDIA, naming us “Europe’s Hottest AI Startup” in 2018, as well as McKinsey and Handelsblatt who awarded us with “The Spark – the German Digital Award”. With Tech.AD acknowledging our solution as the “Most Innovative ADAS Technology”, the importance of using image and video anonymization technology for large-scale data collection in the automotive industry was evident. Since then, we have supported several automotive companies with our leading technology, including Valeo, Intel, Renault and Cruise.
With the GDPR being established in the EU in May 2018, awareness for data privacy increased rapidly worldwide and across industries. Therefore, we have expanded into sectors beyond automotive, and started serving companies like Stryker (healthcare), Deutsche Bahn (public sector), Facebook AI Research and Carnegie Mellon University (research). Our cooperation with OnREX highlights how easily our cloud API can be built into existing products and processes.
In order to stay ahead of the game, we are continuously improving our technology, both via enhancing the user experience and the underlying deep learning models. For our inventions, we have claimed several patents. Our latest product update was the launch of the brighter Redact Portal, gathering all our services in one place and making them accessible to even more people.
Looking into an even brighter future
Since the launch of brighter Redact, we have anonymized over 820,000,000 images and with each image, we are getting one step closer to achieve our vision to protect every identity in public. With backing from our outstanding investors eCAPITAL, G+D Ventures and HELLA Ventures, we are not only scaling into additional use cases and advancing our technology but have also grown to a team of more than 20 bright individuals.
Our latest addition, Tobias Stelzer, who joined as VP Sales & Business Development, has extensive experience including previous roles as VP Sales & Business Development at Telekom as well as several leadership roles at Vodafone and Bazaarvoice, a SaaS scale-up and global leader for user-generated content.
Together with our great team (half of it in the picture, taken before COVID), and from the rooftop terrace of our office in the heart of Berlin, we are looking into a bright future. We are seeing that privacy is becoming increasingly important, images and videos are captured by more and more devices and the need for analytics as well as machine learning is growing rapidly. We are enabling people, companies and institutions to use high-quality data including relevant information while being privacy compliant. And we invite you to join us on that mission.